Shark Night 3D boils down to every horrible example of every horrible cliché that one can ever think of putting into one film. It could be a shark film, but its worse than Jaws 3D. Could be teen horror, but its worse than Friday the 13th series or Prom Night. I could be a small town creepy guys harass heroes movie, but it doesn’t even come close to the Hills Have Eyes and Deliverance shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath. Could be man against nature, or even man controlling nature, but it doesn’t hold a candle to something like Lake Placid. And it even touches on the genre of torture porn, and as many Hostels and Saws there are out there, it’s a genre that has outstayed its welcome.
The writing is unbelievable. The acting can only use what the writing provides – but even they actors have a tendency to make things worse. The premise is so thin that it rips apart before we throw people into danger… sharks in a lake? Not shark, but sharks — plural. And of all different breeds. There is a pointless death at the beginning that goes without mention after it happens – not even a headline. Sharks come from nowhere so there isn’t a sense of tension or danger.
We start with a typical college crew of beautiful students. Throw is a couple nerds. Token black guy. Token Latina. And then send them off to a house in the middle of a lake. Did I mean a lake? With sharks? The justification that the hurricanes cause the Gulf to flow into lakes – along with sharks, is thin at best. And the real reason is that the filmmakers needed to film in Louisiana to get the tax breaks and the idea of threatening swamp animals and backwoods, inbred cannibals was taken by Creature, which was released at almost the same time. So… therefore…sharks.
The college peeps run into the backwoods locals who are stereotypically creepy and demented, including head backwoods guy who has a big scar on his face and muscle-y build. And we also find that lead blonde Suzi knows these people and she has a dark and secretive past. Shock…. After an unmotivated boat chase through the swamps, we meet jovial sheriff who is less creepy than the locals, but still creepy. They finally get to Suzy’s house or her parents’ house, or something… I don’t really remember the dialog that explains why the college kids have a lake house.
No time is wasted doing things like getting to care about these people, when a few go water skiing. And before you know it, again without foreshadowing, token black guy goes down after a shark bites his ski. And he makes it to shore…without his arm. The premed student immediately goes into action to stop the bleeding and attempting to prevent token black guy from going into shock. He says that if they can find the arm, they can save it. Without a thought, one of them dives off the dock to find the arm. Hey, don’t worry about WHY he lost the arm… I’m sure things like that happen all the time. Anyway, he finds said arm, and then sees the shark. Nevermind that when sharks feed, and I’m not a shark professional here, but, they generally ingest what they eat. So, really, there wouldn’t be an arm left to find.
This is the same mentality that runs through the rest of the film: dumbing down the characters to the point of imbecility to get them back onto and into the water so they can be eaten by sharks. And the whole climax and revelation as to WHY there are sharks in the lake… and just what secret past Suzi is hiding is so utterly unbelievable that it made me almost angry.
David Ellis brought us the equally retarded Snakes On A Plane – but at least that was a ride we could get on because it was obvious that the filmmakers were making fun of genres without calling it out at a spoof or satire. In Shark Night, however, despite its obvious character stereotypes, it feels like Ellis is trying to make a legitimately scary horror film…and fails at every turn. They even fail in their demographic. By bringing the rating to a milquetoast PG-13, they can’t push the gore nor can the take advantage of nudity to attract teens and horror fans.